Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott
Harold Ramis, Danny Rubin
In "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a weatherman with a dark, cynical streak who, while covering Groundhog Day in Punxatawny is forced to relive his worst day ever over and over and over again until he learns a lesson and becomes a better person.
"Groundhog Day" offers one of Murray's best performances, capitalizing on both his comical side, his sensitive side, his angry side and his gift for simply being a subtle presence onscreen. Murray is often able to communicate more with his facial expressions than many actors do vocally, and his face is in full effect here. It would be easy to watch "Groundhog Day" and say "great comedy," "neat how he changes," but, in fact we are seeing more than just a comedy here. "Groundhog Day" is a brilliant film, because it hides deep in the center of its comedy we can also find universal truths. For example, in Phil's case he learns repeatedly that in order for his life to change he must risk, he must let go of everything he knows to be true and become truly aware of his life. If he misses one thing, the change truly doesn't happen. In essence, for each thing he misses he must start over. I can't help but think that Danny Rubin's script intentionally softened a bit by giving Phil such a tangible reward for his changes such as the relationship with Rita (Andie MacDowell). Yet, even this choice is an indicator that when we are willing to change then our life will change for us.
The film is blessed with brilliant supporting performances including MacDowell's, Chris Elliott as a camera man, Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned, and Brian Doyle-Murray as Buster.
Harold Ramis's direction is a wonderful balance of funny and sensitive, and the action is paced nicely. I can't help but feel he played a strong role in harnessing Murray's occasionally frenetic energy and helped him bring focus to the role of Phil.
"Groundhog Day" is a great comedy with a solid message that doesn't hinder the delivery of the comedy. It was only days after seeing the film that I began to think about it and realize that I had seen more than I ever realized. "Groundhog Day" is the kind of film you will want to experience repeatedly!
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic